St. Bonaventure University, Alfred State College, Alfred University and Houghton College, will partner together in hosting the second annual Student of Color Leadership Summit on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Alfred State College.
This year’s theme, “A Call to Action,” will focus on issues including student activism, social justice and inclusion in higher education and student leadership among minorities at historically white institutions.
“We chose this theme to build upon last year’s theme, which was ‘Finding Your Voice,’” Suddeth said. “It speaks to many of the issues students are currently facing. With the political climate being the way it is, I think it’s important to call attention to acting.”
At the leadership summit, students will participate in icebreakers, attend sessions, ranging from the importance of activism as individuals and an institution, and tactical actions on how to be an activist, Suddeth said.
Suddeth said the four universities decided to partner together due to their similarities.
“From an administrative perspective, I see the value in networking with other institutions that share our same demographic and geographic locations,” Suddeth said. “I also think that our students often feel the things they’re going through are just happening to them, and what we all wanted students to take away is the nuances occurring to other students at local colleges. The leadership summit is a space that students can be unapologetically themselves.”
Erin Brockenton, a sophomore political science major, attended last year’s summit and had many takeaways on micro-aggression, the degradation on any marginalized group.
“We had discussions varying from having low-intensity levels (basic definition of micro-aggression) to high-intensity levels (the Black Lives Matter movement and why it is necessary),” Brockenton said.
Brockenton said she gained a sense of self-identity from these discussions.
“Growing up with an olive skin tone and curly hair, I rarely saw societal figures who were labeled as ‘beautiful’ that I could physically identify with,” Brockenton said, explaining that, in her youth, she often felt pressured to flat-iron her hair.
“One of the panel discussions at the summit explained that this was a form of micro-aggression and even highlighted that, as women of color with curly hair, we often straighten our hair to look Euro-centric, which takes away from our identity, pride for our culture and sense of natural beauty. This was a discussion that not many people think to have, but it is extremely important,” she said.
Marley Jarvis, a junior health studies major, also attended the summit last year and described it as an “eye-opening” experience.
“Hearing people’s insights and experiences was both educating and empowering to me,” Jarvis said. “The integration of the four colleges was refreshing, and I liked how we were able to see the culture of campuses besides our own. Being in the Bona Bubble, it’s easy to forget that there is life going on outside of our bubble.”
Jarvis said she looks forward to meeting new people and listening to their perspectives and stories.
“With this year’s focus being student activism, I hope to come away with more insight on what I can do,not only as a student of Bonaventure, but as a sister, friend and teammate, to help be a voice of social injustice,” Jarvis said. Suddeth hopes for students to learn more about taking action in their own lives.
“I hope students will become equipped to act now and begin to develop a framework for tactical action steps they need in order to do the actual work that needs to be done,” Suddeth said. “We want to get students invested and involved in things going on on-campus and really taking an active interest in things they deem to be important.”
About 20 students will be attending the leadership summit on Saturday, said Suddeth.
The leadership summit will be hosted at Alfred State from 10 to 4:30 p.m.